Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Friday that there were no longer any secondary inspections of trucks crossing into his state from Mexico, announcing the end of a policy that had created multi-mile backlogs and that critics alleged had cost them millions of dollars in losses because key trade routes had ground to a halt.
The announcement came after Abbott said he had reached agreements with a number of Mexican officials to improve border security.
The new Texas-led inspections went into place in the last week, but they were decried by White House officials, who said the trucks were already inspected by federal officials and that inspecting the same trucks again by state officials created huge traffic jams. The traffic jams were expected to soon lead to food shortages and price spikes, among other things.
“As we are speaking this moment, all these bridges are opened back up to normal trafficking. And so, all the goods that used to go from one country to the other at a very rapid pace, they are moving at that rapid pace as we speak right now,” Abbott said during a news conference with the Tamaulipas governor late Friday afternoon. He added a caveat, that “if we do see increased [illegal] trafficking across the border we will strategically shut down certain bridges.”
Abbott claimed he was lifting the requirement because Mexican officials had agreed to new security measures. He was under tremendous pressure from business groups to back down because of major delays in deliveries, particularly as fruit and vegetable produce sat at risk of spoiling. It is unclear how long it will take for the backlog to clear and traffic to normalize along the border.
In a Fox Business interview, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) described Abbott’s strategy as “genius.” He said the governor was attempting to slow down the flow of trade to maximize pressure on Mexican officials.
“The governor has figured out we can stop trade along the border, slow it down, and it will create pressure on Mexico and some of their governors to work out a deal to help us with border security,” Paxton said.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Abbott met with governors from a number of Mexican states that use Texas ports to import goods, hashing out deals that exchanged the cessation of his additional inspections for enhanced border security on the part of the Mexican government.
He met with governors from Nuevo León, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas, exacting promises of greater vigilance for illegal immigration, human trafficking and the movement of drug cartels’ product and guns.
The two-term Republican up for reelection in November faced the increasing ire of business owners who echoed Little Bear Produce executive Bret Erickson’s sentiment that, “As a Texas business, we were really confused and disappointed by this decision by Gov. Abbott, in a state that touts itself as business-friendly. This was a direct hit to Texas businesses.”
Instituted in response to the Biden administration’s announcement that a pandemic-era slowdown to immigration would be discontinued as of May 23, Abbott said his new inspections were “sending a message to both the president and Congress: Texas is tired of being the unloading dock for illegal immigrants crossing the border.”
Although the Texas Department of Public Safety inspected more than 6,000 trucks since the enhanced protocols were instituted last Friday, when asked in a news conference Wednesday if drugs or other contraband had been found, Abbott answered that more than 20 percent of vehicles stopped had been found to have correctable safety hazards. Abbott said he anticipated that these inspections had “saved lives.”